Founded in 1733 by Gen. John Oglethorpe, the historic Savannah, Ga., features restored antebellum homes and peaceful public squares framed by live oak trees dripping with Spanish moss. You’ll also find a lively waterfront, where you can shop, take a scenic cruise on the Savannah River and indulge in some delicious Southern cuisine – dishes like fried chicken, shrimp and grits and, of course, pecan pie.
Nothing says “Southern hospitality” like a city with great food and fun, and a charming view to boot. There are plenty of ways to take advantage of this and make your trip memorable. Here are our 10 top things to do in Savannah, Ga.
Things to do in Savannah, Ga.
Savannah is known for its 22 public squares. A good place to start exploring is Bull Street, which is lined with some of the most beautiful squares, including Madison, Monterey and Chippewa. Pop culture-enthusiasts would say that Chippewa is one of the can’t-miss things to see in Savannah, since the park bench scene from “Forrest Gump” was filmed on the north side of the square.
You can’t be in Savannah and not take a trolley tour – you’ll see them everywhere. The 90-minute Old Town Trolley Tour covers a large portion of the historic district and you can get on and off. A comprehensive tour of downtown on a real trolley that can drop you at your choice of dining and entertainment options or the American Prohibition Museum for a little dose of history.
One of the best things to do in Savannah is tour many of the city’s historic homes. Two of the top ones include the Owens-Thomas House (Marquis de Lafayette once delivered a speech here) and the Isaiah Davenport House, built in 1820. Isaiah Davenport was a local master builder who created the Federal-style masterpiece as a home for his family and an advertisement for his building skills.
Down by the Savannah River, you can pop into the tourist shops and bustling restaurants (including Vic’s on the River), many of which are housed in former 19th century cotton warehouses. You could also partake in a ghostly tour or just sit and watch the boats sail in and out of the busy port.
Visit the Jepson Center for the Arts, showcasing contemporary art. Check out the Bird Girl statue, which appeared on the cover of the best-selling book “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.” The book, a non-fiction, Southern Gothic-style account of Savannah and its many eccentricities and written by journalist John Berendt, was made into a movie in 1997. All the attention on the statue from the book cover and movie forced the city to move the Bird Girl to the Telfair Museum.
A can’t-miss restaurant is Kitchen 320 at the stylish B Historic Hotel, where chef William Herrington creates low country favorites (Georgia white shrimp with grits, sweet tea chicken wings) with modern techniques. The B Historic has a distinctive modern interior and offers easy access to the city’s historic district, hence the name.
Of the best things to do in Savannah, Ga., this is certainly the one that requires the most bravery. Savannah is one of the country’s most haunted cities. Learn its spooky legends and tales while on a guided tour, which typically includes a stop at the historic Pirate’s House tavern. The Ghosts & Gravestones tour will usher through some of the oldest battlegrounds in US history, where spirits may remain.
Dine on modern Southern fare at the Grey, a stylish eatery in a revamped 1938 art deco Greyhound bus terminal. For traditional dishes (she-crab soup, pecan-crusted chicken), try The Olde Pink House, a must on any list of things to do in Savannah, Ga.
Some of the city’s most creative cocktails can be found at Kitchen 320’s bar, where mixologists whip up concoctions like the bourbon-based Southern Negroni and the vodka-based Dixie Fizz. For those who don’t drink, Kitchen 320 has its own special blend of coffee, created with a combination of Guatemalan and Ethiopian roasted beans.
Indulge your sweet tooth at Leopold’s, an old-school ice cream parlor, and at Savannah’s Candy Kitchen, stocked with pecan pralines, glazed pecans, peanut brittle and other tasty treats. Leopold’s has been making its premium ice cream with the same recipe since 1919 and those with less of a sweet tooth can get something savory from their menu of scratch-made soups and sandwiches.
What things to see in Savannah did we miss? Let us know in the comments!